Friday, April 29, 2011

Humpty Dumpty Drama (part 2)

Last post (part 1 of the Dumpty Drama) we worked with the group to chant and sing Humpty Dumpty, then created 2 ostinati that can be used as part of an Orff arrangement inspired directly by the children.

Part 2
Transferring the vocal/movement ostinati to instruments.
1.  Set up the Orff orchestra in F pentatonic.
F Pentatonic - take out the Eggs & Bacon  (E's and B's)

2.  In our classroom we all try all the parts all the time.
So, we all chose an instrument and experiment.  We rotate from one to the other playing each ostinato.

Ostinato #1
Help me! Ahhhh!
Play "help me" on the bars...any bars.  (2 beats)
Rest on "ahhh!"  (2 beats)
As the Orff instruments are set up in a pentatonic scale all the sounds will harmonize nicely together.

For our purposes last week I sang the Humpty tune while the children concentrated and played the ostinato.  We perform this several times (hidden practise!) as the children rotate around to different instruments.
Humpty tune

Ostinato #2
We can't help.  We wish we could!
Chant this clearly and then play the rhythm of the song on 2 notes of their own choice.
Perform ostinato #2 while teacher sings the Humpty tune.
Rotate around to different instruments (hidden practise again) and repeat.

3.  Now assign parts.
Ostinato #1 - Assign to the metallophones and glockenspiels. (Help me!  Ahhh!)

Ostinato #2 - Assign to the xylophones.  (We can't help. We wish we could)
Humpty Tune - Sing this.  In our recent performance I played strong beats on the contrabass "F" bar while singing the tune.  The class chose their ostinato parts and we played together.

So the final product is orchestral!
Some children are playing ostinato #1, some #2 and I am singing the tune.  We are all concentrating and trying not to let the others mix us up!  It's energizing.

4.  If you do not have Orff instruments I would transfer the ostinati to small percussion.
Ostinato #1 - shakers, scrapers and woods
Ostinato #2 - drums 

If you have any tone bars, the person or group singing can have this as their home tone.  You are certainly not obligated to sing in F pentatonic.  Try G or A pentatonic with a tone bar to set the home tone.

If you are using the melody I wrote (above) I wouldn't recommend singing below F pentatonic because the melody I wrote falls to middle C at the lowest point.  The optimal singing range for young children would not be below middle C.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Humpty Dumpty Drama (part 1)

I have this habit of keeping things.  It's not very feng shui or zen.  It's just how I support my creativity habit.  One of the things I have kept for a gazillion years is this tiny book titled, "Eggs".

Last week this little book brought me Humpty Dumpty.  I had this idea it could be turned into a musical drama using on-the-spot ideas from the children combined with a pre-written melody.   

Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the King's horses and all the King's men
Couldn't put Humpty together again.

Overview of the Dumpty Drama process

Part 1
  • speech and movement foundation with the rhyme
  • speech and movement ostinati created by the children 
Part 2
  • transfer of speech and movement to Orff orchestra
  • perform the rhyme and 2 ostinati simultaneously with movement and Orff Orchestra 
Part 3
  • create a newscast of the Humpty Dumpty Drama
  • perform the newscast with the musical interlude (musical interlude was created in parts 1 & 2) for an audience

Part 1
1.  The first thing I did was take a couple of minutes to write a short tune in F pentatonic.
2.   Prepare blank paper to record ideas after the movement segment.  

You can use chart paper or chalkboard.  Whatever you have in your learning space.  I like to use paper so I can store it for use at a later date if I decide to take this drama beyond this first part.

3.   Share the rhyme and an image if you have one.  Images are so useful with small children.  We chanted the rhyme and then I sang my version.  The kids learned it quickly.

I like to talk about the images children see in their mind's eye.  
  • "What's going on?"  
  • "Who is Humpty?"  
  • "Why/how did he fall?"  
  • "Did anyone see him fall?" 

4.   Everyone "be" Humpty.  We sit on an imaginary wall.  We fall and lay splayed in a variety of ways.  We make noises Humpty might make.

Gather at the chart.  Brainstorm all the things Humpty said and add them to the chart. You will use these to create an ostinati later.

5.   Everyone "be" King's Men.  We march around.  We speak formally.  We view the bits of Humpty.  We comment.

Gather at the chart and record things the King's Men were saying and thinking.  This chart is from last week's process and you can see that somehow we were so engaged in the talk part I forgot to write all the ideas down.  
The kids reminded me about this step and I only wrote down the words we ended up using for our ostinato.

6.  Choose one or more of the Humpty comments and turn them into an ostinato.  We chose two comments,  "Help me!  ahhhh!"  (4 beat ostinato).  

Perform this ostinato with voice and body action.  We had so much fun with this...the kids really loved falling when they said "ahhh!" and using silly voices for Humpty.  

Perform the ostinato, maintaining independence, while teacher/other children sing the Humpty tune.

7.  Choose one of the King's Men comments and turn it into an ostinato.  We chose, "We can't help, we wish we could!" (4 beat ostinato)

Perform this ostinato with action.  I guided them to marching while they were speaking in a strong, soldier's voice.

Perform this ostinato, maintaining independence, while teacher/other children sing the Humpty tune.

This is an excellent place to take a break then take up where you left off in the next session.  
Next session you will need the Orff Orchestra.  
If you don't have Orff instruments I would use small and large percussion instead.

    Wednesday, April 27, 2011

    John Hunter on the World Peace Game

    John Hunter, Educator
    I have been working away on my next series of music and movement posts and this comes in!  Wow!

    I dedicate today's post to all the teachers in my life whose shoulders I stand upon.  

    click the link below...

    Sunday, April 24, 2011

    Saturday, April 23, 2011

    Ever heard of the Gratitude Dance?

    Happy Easter!

    Easter weekend is a perfect time to do the Gratitude Dance!
    Several years ago this little youtube video was being watched everywhere in the world! 

    I met the two gratidudes, Brad Morris and Matthew Ashdowne, creators of the Gratitude Dance, about 5 years ago.  They live here in Victoria where the Gratitude Dance video was recorded. 

    If you haven't had a chance to be happified:)
    by this dance of's your chance!

    Friday, April 22, 2011

    Happy Earth Day!

    It's Earth Day!
    I'm happy it's also Good Friday and a holiday because it means I can spend the day with my husband!  I wrote a blog post about him last week.  He was the founder of Earth Day Canada and the chairman of International Earth Day as well.  

    We always have some fun checking out the Earth Day happenings in our town and reading the emails he still receives from people all over the world sending him good wishes for Earth Day.

    Today we're planning a relaxed, low-key day with a walk somewhere beautiful with our little dog, Moka.   Whatever, you are celebrating today (I've been celebrating sleeping-in this morning!) have a lovely day:)

    I just checked in at  Rachel Rambach's Listen and Learn blog
    she has some great videos there for Earth Day music resources!  Check it out:)

    Wednesday, April 20, 2011

    Who's in Rabbit's House (part 4) African masks bring the story to life!

    For my use with mostly 6 year olds, I have pre-made masks.  Our class meets once a week for 90 minutes and I have to choose with processes will take our time.  I decided that the dramatic process was most important in this experience so I have pre-made masks and simple set design we use with the story Who's in Rabbit's House by Verna Aardema.

    I've posted a huge selection of pictures so you can find ideas for your own or print out mine and copy them for your children.  Close-ups and actions shots included.  Have fun!

    The Set
    Click the photo to see the image magnified.
    A hanging backdrop creates a sense of drama and is easily folded and stored on a shelf after each use.

    Rabbit's house is a giant cardboard puppet theatre made out of an old refrigerator box.  It folds for easy storage.  We turn it backwards and use it for Rabbit's House in this story.  "The Long One" is hiding inside.  
    Rhino and rabbit in action

    The Masks 
    Our African masks are made out of cardboard or very heavy weight paper.  They are brightly colored with Mr. Sketch smelly markers.

    You can see the eye-holes cut as a half-moon shape on either side of the nose.

    Frog mask
    Frog mask with eye-holes opened so you can see placement.  I wish I had placed them a little higher up.
    Frog in action

    Jackal mask
    Jackal mask with eye-holes slit onto face.

    Leopard mask
    Leopard mask with eye-holes slit onto cheeks.

    Elephant mask
    Elephant mask with eye-holes slit onto cheeks.  Strings are tied through ear/side of cheek on the mask.
    Elephant, rhino and rabbit in action.

    Rhino mask with horns cut out and tilted up.
    Rhino mask with eye-holes slit and folded up.
    Rhino mask

    The Puppets
    The Long One is a large stick puppet

    The Lake is a blue blanket taped to 2 sticks.  
    One child is chosen to be the lake and waves it about at the appropriate times.

    Leopard, Jackal and The Lake in action

    Monday, April 18, 2011

    Who's in Rabbit's House (part 3)

    In Make Me Musical post 1 we read the story.  Click here to read part 1.
    In post 2 we experienced each character through movement patterns and emotional expression. Click here to read about building characterization for the play in part 2.

    Now....we're ready for the African orchestra.

    As a group we sort through the giant collection of small percussion in my cupboards and learn which instruments are of african origin.

    Xylophones are of african origin...metallophones are not!
    Drums of many kinds are, of course, african in origin.
    Shakers and hollowed instruments, thumb pianos are also of african origin.
    Here is my humble collection!

    Use all your big drums. I have 3 big drums and this is one of them.  On top of the conga you can see the "kids talking drum".  We spend time learning how to hold it and squeeze it to change the pitch."
    thumb pianos - kalimba - interestingly, the round thumb piano is decorated with australian aboriginal design yet the tag when I bought it said it was made in Africa!

    calabash and rabbit shaker

    loop rattle and agogo bells made in Africa

    Set up the xylophones in F pentatonic.  Take out the E's and B's (the Eggs & Bacon).  We did not specify exact bars to play.  I did specify the rhythm. (dotted quarter/eighth) 

    I played the bass xylophone in a dotted quarter/eighth rhythm and other children and parents joined us to play this rhythm.  This is a fantastic rhythm to play while narrating the story.  I just play ever-so-lightly through almost the entire play and it creates an atmosphere of "Africa!"  

    The small percussion are used creatively to make the sounds of the animals moving.
    frog - hopping
    jackal - running
    elephant - stomping
    leopard - leaping
    rhino - chunky and charging
    the long one - running (at the end of the story)
    I let who ever is playing the small percussion decide how the sound will be made so it's entirely improvisational.  Small percussion players just play when their animal is moving.

    The big drums are fantastic for the elephant sound but I don't insist on that if someone has an idea they'd prefer for the elephant.

    I do ask that the big drums be played simultaneously in time with the words of the chant, "I am the Long One.  I eat leaves and trample on elephants.  Go away or I will trample on you!"

    Tomorrow (part 4) I will have pictures of our masks.
    It's not that easy to convey the simple complexity of this activity:)  Are you able to follow it?  I'm breaking it up into a series of posts so that each post is not miles long!  I hope it's useful/comprehensible!

    Sunday, April 17, 2011

    Who's in Rabbit's House? (part 2)

    The story of "Who's in Rabbit's House?" is a story about fear, friendship and community.  As the story begins, African villagers are gathering together to see a play prepared by other members of the village.  The actors don masks and the play begins...

    The Process
    1.  Read the story with your class.  This year's class is a real story-loving bunch and they were happy to sit and be captivated by this book.  That doesn't always happen!  Sometimes we have to act out the animals as they appear to give the wigglers some legitimate way to cope with listening to a story.

    This year the 2 comments/questions that stood out for me were...
    • "Why is their skin so black?"  (The illustrations show the African villagers with black-black skin...not the typical shade of skin we see everyday in our town.)  We talked about this, as we do with every country we visit this year, and how the skin colors are so varied.

    • "I know what I'd do to get that bad animal out of my house!  I'd just open the door and grab him and throw him out."  (I would bring up the point that this is a story of how the rabbit was afraid of the bad animal and didn't have the courage to open the door.  It is a small moment to open a child's eyes to compassion or empathy.  We actually talked about how obvious it was to just open the door and see what was behind it...and how the story wouldn't have any drama if we did that!)

    2.  As you are reading, involve the children in chanting whenever it repeats, "I am the Long One.  I eat trees and trample on elephants.  Go away or I will trample on YOU!"  (you really have to get your own copy of the story to see what I mean...and you will be happy to have's a lovely story)

    3.  Explore characterization/moving like each character in the story.  This year we didn't spend as much time on this part compared to years' past.  They were keen to get to the masks and the orchestra parts.
    Rabbit - sitting on a log, cleaning up around the outside of rabbit's house/hoeing/sweeing/patting the roof/taking away sticks/emotions of sad and mad/being flung into the lake, laughing
    Frog - hiding behind a tree, hopping, laughing and helping, rolling a giant-size jungle leaf into the shape of a bullhorn for calling through.
    Jackal - fearful, gathering sticks
    Elephant - heavy step, swaying trunk, stomping
    Leopard - leaping and scratching
    Rhino - charging
    The Long One - big scary voice, fearful running away, crawling up into a tree

    4.  Gather together the Orff Orchestra and small African percussion instruments for the musical accompaniment.
    I will post more photos and detail about how we incorporated the instrument play in tomorrow's Make Me Musical post.

    5.  Set the scene for the play with a backdrop, tree, house, log-seat, lake and animal masks.  

    6.  Importance of masks in storytelling in some African cultures.  In a couple of days I will post some great close-up pix of the masks I made for use in our class.  The kids love them!

    7.  Perform the play together.  I have a script written out based on the story.  It helps the story to move along more fluidly when we are in "play/performance" mode.  


    Saturday, April 16, 2011

    Who's in Rabbit's House? An African StoryPlay (part 1)

    by Verna Aardema
    You can find your own copy at 

    One of the programs at Musicalia centers on "Music Around the World".  Each week we travel to a new country or culture or time in history.  These last two weeks we've been in Africa. 

    For our last class in Africa we invited the parents and siblings to participate in a play based on an African story called "Who's in Rabbit's House?" 

    "Who's in Rabbit's House?"  is a story of how all the animals try to help Rabbit when a bad animal gets into Rabbit's house and he can't get him out.  It's one of those tales where a small creature creates big drama and fear.  In the end, out of all the giant animals in the story it is the smallest animal who saves the day. 

    The next post at Make Me Musical I will share with you some simple ideas of how to bring life to an African story using masks, simple props, xylophones, drums and small percussion.

    If you don't have this book...get one from Amazon or the library!   

    Friday, April 15, 2011

    Meet the Founder of Earth Day Canada

    my husband...
    Nigel Seale
    Founder of Earth Day Canada

    Yes, my husband was the founder of Earth Day Canada.  He even trademarked the name "Earth Day Canada" and the logo.

    The first national Earth Day Canada occurred in 1990.  Nigel started organizing it in 1988 and it took 2 long years to make it happen.  About 3 million Canadians are estimated to have celebrated.  Nigel says, of all the Earth Day operations and events he has organized, it is of this one he is most proud.

    You can read about Earth Day on Wikipedia.  Nigel has spoken to me about Denis Hayes (an Earth Day visionary) and meeting him.   It was Dennis who suggested to Nigel that he take over the Earth Day International events after 1990.  

    Nigel was the global chairman of Earth Day in 1991 and 1992.

    In 1990, there were 141 countries organizing to celebrate Earth Day.  It was the first global Earth Day to take place.  Within those countries were thousands of groups of people creating celebrations in their communities.

    Travelling the World
    After that, Nigel travelled around the world raising awareness, communicating with big businesses and corporations and helping small community organizations prepare for Earth Day celebrations.  By the time he left his position as chairman, the International Earth Day organization had brought Russia and China on board and the number of participating countries had grown to over 160!

    One of my favorite stories
    Nigel negotiated with McDonald's in the days when McDonald's still used styrofoam.  He convinced them to use 100% post-consumer recycled paper with vegetable dyes in their tray liners.  It was a huge accomplishment at the time.

    At the time Nigel received criticism from some environmental organizations.  They accused him of  partnering with "the enemy".  Nigel says he wanted to connect with the uninitiated and that small steps were the way to make big changes.  I think he was brave and amazing!

    Nigel was invited to the United Nations to meet with leaders there.  He also met celebrities, rock stars and many wealthy and influential business leaders.  He spoke to huge audiences, small audiences, children in schools, accepted a variety of service awards and gave TV and other media interviews. 

    If you can imagine...
    all of this was achieved in the days before email, skype or wide-spread computer/cell phone availability.  

    It was organized in person, eyeball-to-eyeball, by fax, by telephone and old-fashioned snail mail.   Extraordinary networking!

    As Earth Day approaches the conversation at our house turns to wonder and acknowledgment as I watch Nigel notice how truly global Earth Day has become in the last 20 years.

    We notice that Earth Day has a growing importance.  We notice how it is used and acknowledged in business and advertizing, in our schools, in the way everyday people like you and I make choices about the way we will use the Earth's resources.   Earth Day has inspired musicians, artists and creators to celebrate.
    "Make every day Earth Day!"(Nigel Seale)

    Do you know many people who have literally made the world a better place...on a global scale?  I don't.  I've read about remarkable things people have done and seen shows on TV about remarkable things people have done.

    Nigel is the only person I know personally who created a national and global event.  He had a hand in inspiring the world to celebrate itself!

    Today at Make Me Musical it's an early celebration!  
    Next Friday, April 22, is not only a religious holiday (Good Friday) it is Earth Day.  How do you celebrate Earth Day?

    My blog post today and my "Love the Bugs" arrangement for children is my way of paying tribute to Nigel for literally making the world a better place.

    Thanks, Nigel!

    Wednesday, April 13, 2011

    Online Ear Training Program

    Jenny over at  The Teaching Studio has a post today about an online ear training program.
    She uses it in her piano studio.  I thought it sounded fun and am linking to her blog today because the good folks at are giving her one to give away!  

    I'm hoping for a chance to win myself as I have several students who would benefit from playing with this.

    If you'd like to put your name in the draw, just visit her site here and leave your name in the comments section for a chance to win.

    Good luck:)

    Tuesday, April 12, 2011

    Buy your own wind whistle

    One of Make Me Musical's readers wrote asking for some help to find a wind whistle.  I too had trouble finding one!  LP doesn't make them anymore.  None of my regular musical instrument haunts or sites seem to carry them.

    a world-wide wind whistle shortage... :)

    I ended up finding one at Lone Star Percussion.
    It's a good price at $17.90, so if you too are looking for a wind whistle, check out this link:

    Buy a wind whistle
    Here is the number on their site:

    Ideas for using wind whistles in your classroom found on Make Me Musical
    and here.

    Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...